A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public Schools

Document Date: August 19, 2008
Affiliates: ACLU of Mississippi, ACLU of Texas

In this 125-page report, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch found that in Texas and Mississippi children ranging in age from 3 to 19 years old are routinely physically punished for minor infractions such as chewing gum, talking back to a teacher, or violating the dress code, as well as for more serious transgressions such as fighting. Corporal punishment, legal in 21 states, typically takes the form of “paddling,” during which an administrator or teacher hits a child repeatedly on the buttocks with a long wooden board.

Corporal punishment violates international human rights standards binding on the U.S., including norms prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and protecting the right to dignity. The report shows that, as a result of paddling, many children are left injured, degraded, and disengaged from school.

Press Coverage: Times Malta | Clarksville Online

Related Advocacy/Litigation: “Corporal Punishment in Schools and Its Effect on Academic Success” Joint HRW/ACLU Statement For the Hearing Before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities